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2 NL East players opt out of 2020 season … and there will probably be more – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Four players opted out of the 2020 season on Monday, and there will probably be more to come.

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Gone camping: A-League superstar Diego Castro MIA for restart refusing to return to Perth Glory – Fox Sports

When the A-League starts this weekend, Diego Castro will be in some remote part of Western Australia, Clark Griswold-style in a campervan, taking in the natural wonders of a largely untouched coastline, a million miles from care, with his family.

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To his football family; his teammates, his club, anyone with a passing interest in the A-League, its a damn shame.
Of course we want to see him destroying right backs, not killing time around a campfire.
Of course wed rather him be in Sydney shivering through July, not collecting an immaculate tan where winter never hits.
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Best post-game interview ever
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Not a lot about the world is fair right now. This is a minor consideration in the grand scheme, but a consideration nonetheless.
Whispers had been around Castro didnt made it back to Perth training a month ago. A pandemic is a good time to keep things hush; paradise for the paranoid! No prying eyes at the training ground, no leaks of blow ups and disgruntled players seeping out. And virtually nothing about one of the greatest in A-League history taking leave.
Off he went, north and out of touch, leaving the club to deliver the news via a media release this morning.
Perth Glory can confirm that Diego Castro has withdrawn from the squad which will complete the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, citing health reasons relating to COVID-19, the statement read.
The Glory skipper informed the club that he viewed his participation to be an unacceptable health risk for him and/or his family.
Glory CEO Tony Pignata said the club respected Castros decision.
It is very unfortunate that Diego will not be available for the remainder of the season, he said, But we understand this personal decision that he has come to after careful consideration.
Castro told the club he felt uncomfortable about going into a hub situation in Sydney, preferring to stay with his family. Each to their own. Theres no right or wrong.
Eventually, though, it has to come to a head.
Castro has another year left on his contract. But what will that deal look like in a new financial situation for Australian football?
When signing that contract, Castro said: I want to keep that love story with the fans going.
Will love conquer all?
Diego Castro.Source: Getty Images
Questions for another day, especially for Tony Popovic, who has quietly gone about preparing a Perth Glory without their legend.
Its not so much a gap that needs to be filled, but a crevasse to the earths core.
Since Popovic took over at Glory, Castro leads the A-League in assists, secondary assists and tackles evaded.
After a strange campaign thats never recaptured the high calibre consistency of last season, Glory sit fifth.
With six games to play that come every four days, they can finish as high as third, or as low as eighth.
Popovic has never been afraid of a managerial mountain to climb. Like landing in London for a assistants job at Crystal Palace where hours off a plane he was forced to immediately prove himself by putting on a session in a haze of jetlag and gaze of hard to please professionals.
And then he decided to leave a comfortable job to start a new club in Western Sydney.
And then he left the comfort he built in Western Sydney for rural Turkey.
Now Popovic has massive challenge, and while he deems whats happened irrelevant because theres no point in looking back, the rest of us can at least be happy we got to see a player of Castros ability.
Back in 2015, before Castro had played a game for Perth, our late great friend Mike Cockerill said the Spaniard would be one of the leagues best ever signings.
Mike, not for the first time, couldnt have been more correct if he tried.

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Bombers have flown ‘under the radar’ to become a major AFL contender’. These stats prove it – Fox Sports

Essendon has flown under the radar in 2020 but a more mature and physical approach has the Bombers ready to compete for a top four spot.

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AFL greats Garry Lyon, Nick Riewoldt and Jonathan Brown were all in-tune on Monday night as they sung high praise for the new-look Bombers that are flying high.
After back-to-back wins against Collingwood and North Melbourne, Essendon is just one win behind ladder-topping Port Adelaide with a game in hand.
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Round 7
Bombers hold off Roos
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Once seen as a team that could run-and-gun with the best but often came up short in the contest, Essendon now has more strings to its bow which has gone somewhat unnoticed, Lyon said.
This is an under-the-radar club, I reckon, he said during Fox Footys On The Couch. Lets not forget theyve got a game up their sleeve and theyre sitting in the top four.
Ladder position aside, the numbers show that Essendons defence stacks up in 2020.
The Bombers rank among the leagues best for points against (3rd), opposition scores per inside 50 (3rd), points against from turnovers (4th) and points against from stoppages (6th).
This is pretty significant this sort of stuff, Lyon said about the numbers. We always used to look at them (Essendon) and think theyre a great slingshot team but they were a bit all-or-nothing. This is much more sustainable again.
Theyre being able to defend much better, theyre being able to defend turnover much better as well.
Their setups and structure behind the footy, whether its a (assistant Blake) Caracella or a (incoming coach Ben) Rutten influence I dont know … could be (coach) John Worsfold.
Riewoldt agreed, saying that the Bombers are now playing with more balance.
Bombers press conference
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They were always an outnumber team, (now) they just seem to be holding their ground at times to provide that little bit of cover so theyre not all just getting bees to the honey pot, sucked into the contest, he said.
And theyre being a bit safer out of the back half as well which is making them less vulnerable on the turnover.
Meanwhile, Brown singled out for praise 22-year-old midfielder Andrew McGrath, who has helped set the tone for the Bombers around stoppages.
McGraths 32 tackles is comfortably the Bombers most, six ahead of second-place Devon Smith. McGraths also averaging 22 touches a game, which is just 1.4 less than club leader Dylan Shiel.
Hes brought a hard edge to their midfield, Brown said of McGrath. I love the way he attacked the Collingwood midfielders last week and, for a young guy, I think hes really leading the charge in there.
Essendons next two games are against the Western Bulldogs followed by the winless Adelaide Crows.

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Byron Buxton Carted Off Field – MLB Trade Rumors

7:39pm: Buxton’s initial exam didn’t reveal any serious problems, according to manager Rocco Baldelli (via Hayes). They’re cautiously optimistic Buxton …

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7:39pm: Buxton’s initial exam didn’t reveal any serious problems, according to manager Rocco Baldelli (via Hayes). They’re cautiously optimistic Buxton will be OK.
6:47pm: Buxton’s having imaging done on a left foot injury, tweets Hayes, who adds that the Twins should have more information on his status Tuesday.
6:38pm: Twins center fielder Byron Buxton was carted off the field Monday after suffering an apparent injury to his left ankle, per Dan Hayes of The Athletic. Buxton departed after possibly getting “a spike caught in the turf,” Hayes writes. Further details aren’t available yet.
Should this turn out to be a major injury, it would be the latest in an unfortunately long line of them for Buxton. The 26-year-old’s health issues helped limit him to 115 of a possible 324 regular-season games from 2018-19. Buxton only took part in 87 games last year, which ended for him when he underwent left shoulder surgery in September. That procedure prevented Buxton from participating in the Twins’ ALDS matchup versus the Yankees.
Thanks in part to injuries, Buxton’s career perhaps hasn’t gone to plan since the Twins drafted him second overall in 2012. But there’s no denying that Buxton has shown immense promise at times. The defensively brilliant speedster was a 3.6-fWAR player in 2017 – the lone season thus far in which he has amassed 100-plus games – and logged 2.7 fWAR in 2019 despite missing almost half the campaign. He slashed a career-best .262/.314/.513 (111 wRC+) with 10 homers and 14 steals over 295 plate appearances then, also chipping in 10 Defensive Runs Saved and a plus-8.7 Ultimate Zone Rating.
To their credit, he Twins did more than stay afloat without Buxton a season ago. And at least a few of the center field options they used in his stead – Max Kepler, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. – are still on hand. That said, it would be optimal for the team to have Buxton in the mix. The hope right now is that he’s not dealing with yet another significant problem.

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